Don Pablo’s Fresh Mex

4 out of 5 sprouts

4 out of 5 sprouts

I love Mexican food.  We used to have a number of Don Pablo’s around central Florida but they have since closed, leaving only a small number left in the area.  I don’t understand.  Don Pablo’s is great.  Sure, it’s a chain similar to the Chevy’s chain or the now defunct Chi Chi’s chain, but it is still great.  Maybe the fact that there are so many Mom and Pop Mexican restaurants here in Florida had something to do with it.  But I sure love my Mexican places.

Don Pablos Chips and Salsa

Maybe it’s the chips and salsa that are served at every Mexican restaurant in the country- but Don Pablo’s serves them warm and fresh.  And the salsa isn’t too shabby either.

Dip Sampler Don Pablos

Perhaps my most favorite item on the menu is their Dip Sampler.  the Queso Dip, Queso Blanco Dip, Prairie Fire Bean Dip and Guacamole are served with flour tortillas.  Nothing is bad here.  I especially love the Queso Blanco Dip.  Wow- perfection.  Served with homemade flour tortillas that are made right in the middle of the restaurant for everyone to see.  There is nothing better than a fresh homemade tortilla to go with Queso-Blanc dip.

Don Pablos Fish Taco Trio

Chad has fallen in love with fish tacos and that is exactly what he ordered.  The Fish Taco Trio plate is “Your choice of grilled or golden fried, hand-battered fish with lettuce, pico de gallo and Monterey Jack nestled in three freshly-made tortillas. With Mexican rice and choice of beans.”  He ordered the grilled fish and he loved them.  And this is a guy who just a few months ago wasn’t into the idea of fish served on taco shells.  Now he loves them and he loved them here.

Chipotle Portabella Mushroom Fajita

I got the Chipotle Portabella Mushroom Fajitas.  I love the diversity of portabella mushrooms and I loved them as a meat substitute for the usual chicken or steak normally served in fajitas.  And of course, it was served with the traditional lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream, guacamole and flour tortillas on the side.  I loved them.  I could eat that all day.  The mushrooms had a smoky flavor and were meaty and plump.  Deliciousness on a plate.

Don Pablos Fajitas

Here is where my visit went wrong.  At a nearby table, a toddler had thrown her paper children’s menu on the floor and it sat there right in the aisle.  It stayed there as the hostess sat tables and she passed it about eight times and never picked it up.  It stayed there as our server walked not only by it but around it.  As someone who used to work in restaurants I think I am pretty easy going when it comes to certain things, but leaving a large piece of paper on the floor is just not acceptable to me.  It is a safety hazard.  Not only could the server holding a large and hot tray of food slip on it and get seriously injured, a guest could potentially take a spill and that would cause a major headache for the restaurant.

Paper on Floor

Don Pablos Sanford

Now, I know you are questioning why I didn’t pick it up myself and I thought about it, but not once did I see any of the staff carrying big trays out and I saw both the hostess and the server look down at it so I knew they knew it was there.  We were nestled back into a corner of the restaurant where there weren’t any other guests nearby so a guest wasn’t in danger per se.  When the busser cleared the table he eventually picked it up.  That just bothered me.

Dip sampler with flour tortillas

Paper on the floor aside, I love Don Pablo’s.  I love that the atmosphere is so colorful and the food is always hot and delicious.  But that one piece of paper on the floor just got to me.  I know- it’s petty.  It is.  If it weren’t for that I would be praising five out of five sprouts.

Don Pablos website

Don Pablo's on Urbanspoon Don Pablo's Mexican Kitchen on Foodio54

3 comments for “Don Pablo’s Fresh Mex

  1. Helen Corbin
    July 2, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    Hopefully someone from the restaurant will read this.

  2. Dono
    April 5, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    WHICH location is this about? I came to read the review because of the lack of any good reports from the Sarasota location. I might wish to give DPs another try, but the reports on Sarasota’s restaurant are so darn dismal…

    Also, which ever store this is, paper ignored on the floor in the front of the restaurant leaves me to wonder what they do in the BACK of the restaurant.

    • April 6, 2014 at 7:02 am

      Hi Dono!
      We went to the location in Sanford, Florida. I have unfortunately read a lot of bad things about DP’s too. Many of the location around us have all closed. The food we had was pretty good- I just hope they get their act together before it is too late!

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